Home and garden events around Sonoma County

SANTA ROSA: Spring orchid show ‘Orchids in Art’

Enter the mysterious and enchanting world of some of the world’s most sought-after plants at “Orchids in Art,” April 2 and 3 at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building.

Put on by the Sonoma County Orchid Society, the annual spring show features premium orchids for sale, an on-site orchid doctor to troubleshoot your orchid’s ailments, skill sessions, plants for sale by society members, a boutique with books, potting soils, bark and other garden related items and hourly drawings for prizes.

Skill sessions include talks on “Repotting Cymbidiums” at 11 a.m., “Getting your Supermarket Orchid to Bloom” at 1 p.m. and “Growing Orchids Indoors in Sonoma County” at 3 p.m. (on Saturday only).

Members will also lead tours explaining the rare and exception orchids on display.

The Carnelian Strings and Nicolette Rickles were offer live music while you stroll the show. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8, free for kids under 13. 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. For information, visit sonomaorchids.com.

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SEBASTOPOL: Stay ahead of the gophers

Now that spring is here, the garden thieves are trolling for dinner. Arm yourself to protect your garden by learning about gopher trapping.

Gregg Crawford, aka “The Gopher Guy,” will demonstrate his modified Cinch trap during a hands-on workshop from 10 a.m. to noon April 2 at Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery. 3244 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol. To sign up, visit harmonyfarm.com or email phamilton@harmonyfarm.com.

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HEALDSBURG: Learn how to grow roses

Do you want to grow roses but feel intimidated by the learning curve? The Russian River Rose Co. will offer a “Rose Gardening for Dummies” class on April 2 and 3.

Owner Jan Tolmasoff will offer tips on water-wise planting, fertilizing, mulching and grooming your roses. She will also offer live demonstrations on how to properly plant a rose. Demonstrations are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Free. 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg. 433-7455 or russian-river-rose.com.

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SANTA ROSA: Unique plants for ponds

Sabrina Howell, the owner of Wild Toad Nursery in Santa Rosa, has been playing with ponds for 15 years, starting with her first pond in her own backyard. Since then she has built and maintained over a dozen ponds, all designed to attract and support wildlife, particularly during the recent drought.

Howell will talk about “Water for Wildlife” on Monday during the March meeting of the Santa Rosa Garden Club.

A certified California Naturalist through the University of California’s program, she has studied horticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sustainable Landscaping at Sonoma State University. She worked for several years at King’s Nursery in Santa Rosa and with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service on its Schoolyard Habitat Program.

Howell will bring a selection of unique plants from her nursery, which will be available for purchase.

The meeting is open to nonmembers. 1 p.m. Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. For information, call 537-6885 or email gardenclubevents@yahoo.com.

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SEBASTOPOL: Tips on drop irrigation

Learn the basics of drip irrigation during a free workshop today at Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery.

Certified Irrigation Designer Patricia Hamilton will focus on drip components, design and installation for trees, vines, vegetable and landscaping, as well as the various types of emitters, microsprayers, soaker-type drip hoses, timers, valves and other materials. The talk will be geared to smaller systems for homeowners. 10 a.m. to noon. To guarantee a spot, visit harmonyfarm.com or call 823-9125. 3244 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol.

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SAN FRANCISCO: Golden Gate Park garden tour

The Santa Rosa Garden Club has some extra seats available for its April 6 Gardens of Golden Gate Bus Tour.

San Francisco raconteur Craig Smith will lead the tour of Golden Gate Park’s gardens.

The trip cost of $80 includes lunch at The Beach Chalet. The bus leaves at 8 a.m., with a stop in Petaluma for South County travelers. It will return at 5:30 p.m.

Deadline is Monday, March 28. For information or to reserve a seat, call 537-6885 or visit gardenclubevents@yahoo.com.

Compiled by Meg McConahey. Direct Home and Garden news to meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com or call 521-5204. Please submit items three weeks in advance of an event. On Twitter @megmcconahey.

Disneyland of Orchids Autumn Show in bloom this April

ROCKHAMPTON Orchid Society autumn show, themed “disneyland of orchids”, will be held April 2 and 3 at Rockhampton High School Hall, Campbell Street entrance.

The event will be held Saturday, April 2 from 9am to 4pm and Sunday, April 3 from am to 3pm.

Entry is $3 for adults and free for children.

Free lucky door prizes and raffles during the weekend.

There will be benched orchids and foliage plants.

At this time of year there will be flowering cattleya, vandas, oncidiums, catsetums, hard cane dendrobiums, slipper orchids and many more varieties.

Members will also compete in the container, small and large display sections

Foliage art including flower arrangments and corsages

There will be orchid repotting workshops on both days and potting supplies for sale

The bonsai society and the cake decorators association will have stands

There will be plant sales of orchids, bromelaids and ferns as well as flower arrangments.

Out of town vendors – alice’s orchids (townsville) and mns orchids (sarina) will be selling their beautiful orchids

Our fabulous devonshire teas will again be happening.

For further details contact sandra rowcliffe mobile 0438 130 360.

*Source: The Morning Bulletin

San Diego Orchid Growers Harvest Passion And Memories

A few dozen adults crowd around tables in a large conference room at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. At the front of the room a grey-haired woman shouts a greeting.

“Good morning, everybody! We’re going to have a great show. We have beautiful flowers. So I’d like to start by going through some of the rules.”

“I got my first orchid when I was an adult to find a bouquet for my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day,” said Ron Kaufmann, chairman of the orchid society’s conservation committee and, like Peters, a life member.

“And the flower shop I went to had some pots of orchids sitting outside. So I thought, ‘That’s a little different.’ It’s something nice and not just a dozen red roses. And it was actually one of these,” he added, pointing to one of the thousands of flowers on the floor of the convention hall.

There are about 30,000 species of orchids in the wild. Add to that the 100,000 hybrids created by orchid fanciers and you can imagine the floral riot of shapes and colors at the orchid society show. Kaufmann is an oceanography professor at the University of San Diego and he says evolution has made the orchid an astounding plant.

“The infinite variety is just because they are designed to attract an infinite variety of pollinators. The pollen in orchids doesn’t get blown from place to place by the wind. All of that variety is designed to attract different kinds of pollinators to the flowers to accomplish pollination,” he said. “And that variety also tends to attract people, who have an interest in this wide variety.”

Who are the orchid people? One of them is a young man with a long red beard who’s a post-doctoral scholar in neurology at UCSD. His name is Kevin Rynearson.

“So, when I was a kid, after my grandmother passed away, we went to help my grandfather clean out his house and I went into his backyard, where I was never allowed to go as a little kid,” Rynearson explained. “It was actually a greenhouse that he had up in the Bay Area that was full of cymbidium orchids.”

There was some space left after they packed up the U-Haul so they crammed as many orchids as they could into it. For Rynearson and orchids the rest is history.

Most people may think of orchids as the fancy flowers you see on sale at Trader Joe’s. But the orchid society members who live throughout San Diego County see them as much more. One of those members lives in a big house on a quiet lane on Point Loma.

Betty Kelepecz is tall and confidant, the reflection of a career spent in law enforcement. She worked her way up to the rank of commander for the LAPD and retired as the chief of the San Diego Harbor Police. In her backyard greenhouse she shows me her “Darwin orchid,” which has a star-shaped flower and a 12-inch-long nectar spur.

Charles Darwin theorized the flower must have evolved with a moth that had an elongated proboscis in order to reach all the way down the spur to get the nectar and pollinate the flower. In the 1960s, a hundred years later, naturalists saw a moth do just that and proved Darwin right.

Kelepecz pointed out another flower in the shade of a pergola next to the greenhouse.

“Remember I was talking about that orchid from Peru that I fell in love with? … Well here it is! It’s called masdevallia veitchiana and it grows on Machu Picchu.”

She said the bright orange flower was given a name by local Indians that refers to the story of a princess who lost her lover and cried with heartbreak. The flower is called “tears of the princess.”

Kelepecz, of course, had a story about how she first became aware of orchids. When she was living in Long Beach her husband found a disheveled, discarded plant in an alley and brought it home. He said it was an orchid and Betty told him it was not. Her husband was right and the plant bloomed for 30 years.

Kelepecz said working for decades as a cop made growing orchids a place where she could find some peace.

“My background was one of a lot of stress. And so orchid growing for me was a place to go and to become calm… It makes me joyful. I’m a joyful person anyway but the joy in growing an orchid is to me the perfect joy.”

The fact that an orchid can grow at 8,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes is a pretty good indication that they can grow just about everywhere. Some live in the tropics but plenty can survive a hard freeze. A story repeated to me by nearly every member of the orchid society was that the flowers grow on every continent except Antarctica.

They say that San Diego’s mild climate is a great place to grow a wide variety of orchids. Rancho Santa Fe is where orchid society member Debby Halliday lives. Her property is expansive and well kept. Naturally, she has a place where she keeps here orchids.

“So here we are,” Halliday tells me after she opens the glass door. “This is my lovely greenhouse where I spend a lot of time.”

Halliday and her husband spent their lives in business, at one point selling cactus and succulent plants to supermarkets. But she says she’s only done orchids for love, not money.

“In 1970, I had just gotten married. We lived in Brooklyn and my husband was very interested in orchids,” she said. “So we together joined the New York Orchid Society. We built a little lean-to greenhouse in the backyard… We had the bottom two floors of a brownstone. And members of the New York Orchid Society gave us our first collection.”

Today, Halliday is a member of the San Diego County Orchid Society. She is a judge at orchid shows and teaches culture classes for the society. That’s horticulture. Like so many orchid people, the flowers are a bank of memories and emotions, maybe especially for Halliday, who has named her variety of a hybrid plant — the Lc. Mini Song ‘Donald Halliday’ — after her late husband.

“My husband got ill and he wasn’t able to stay around and enjoy it. But for me, it’s a great reason to get up in the morning.”

It’s the perfect joy.

In bleak midwinter, a fellow’s fancy turns to finding an orchid

“It isn’t easy to pass down the aisles of those three rooms without stopping, even in an emergency, but that time I stopped only once, where a group of Miltonia roezlis were sporting more than fifty racemes on four feet of bench. It was the best crop of Miltonias that Wolfe (and Theodore) had ever had.” 

– Rex Stout, “Counterfeit for Murder,” 1962.

Valentine’s Day is near, I notice, and so it’s time for me to go shopping for Sallie at Home Depot or possibly Cub Foods, depending on who has the best selection this year.

A nice pair of rubber gloves, you ask? A fresh whiskbroom-and-dustpan set?

No. As always the objective is a fine new orchid, and while orchids are available from plenty of flower shops and specialty growers, Home Depot has been lucky for us year after year; prize winners have been found among its offerings.

And now I see that in Stillwater, at least, Cub Foods is seizing a competitive opportunity.

All of which adds to the evidence, I think, of how these unearthly blooms are continuing to colonize mainstream American homes as relentlessly as they have colonized all of Earth’s continents except Antarctica, their image evolving from fragile greenhouse specialty to leather-tough houseplant well suited to ordinary indoor habitats.

Even if, like me, you don’t much care for indoor flowering plants you may still find it as difficult to breeze by a typical Depot orchid array as Archie Goodwin found it to rush through Nero Wolfe’s Miltonias.

Orchids can do that to you.

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“[O]rchids are not simply beautiful.  Many are strange-looking or bizarre, and all of them are ugly when they aren’t flowering. They are ancient, intricate living things that have adapted to every environment on earth. They have outlived dinosaurs; they might outlive human beings. … They are at once architectural and fanciful and tough and dainty, a  jewel of a flower in a haystack of the plant.”  

— Susan Orlean, “The Orchid Thief,” 1998

I should say right off that you’re unlikely to find a Miltonia at a big-box retailer, but if you know what a Miltonia is you surely know that too.

Phalaenopsis is the genus that will comprise at least 90 percent of the offerings, with the occasional Dendrobiumor Oncidium thrown in. But unless you’re a serious collector, so what?

It’s a curiosity of orchids that species within a genus, like Phalaenopsis or Paphiopedilum, produce blossoms in so many different colors, sizes and shapes that you might wonder how they were ever grouped together in the first place. (Another quirk is that, unlike other house and garden plants, orchids have resisted the application of nicknames in place of the Latin; fanciers may talk of “phals” or “paphs” or “dendros,” but that’s about as informal as it gets.)

Thanks, I guess, to DNA examination, some of these long-established classifications are being gradually though radically rewritten. Highly lookalike varieties are being assigned to separate groupings based on their genes; other varieties that could hardly look less related are joining the same genera.

A couple of weekends ago, at the Orchid Society of Minnesota’s annual Winter Carnival show, I discussed this point with a society representative standing beside a display of prize-winning Oncidiums.

He explained that the old genus assignments were made partly on the basis of blossom shape and color, partly on foliage, partly on native growing locale – and, often, partly on classifier whim or other factors that in retrospect seem equally random.

Pointing to a handy, tiny-blossomed specimen, he gave another listener the introductory lesson on What Makes an Orchid an Orchid: a blossom structure consisting of three sepals radiating from a common center, like the spokes in the Mercedes-Benz emblem, and behind them another radial of three petals, oriented opposite the sepals.

Problem was, he was suddenly confused about which parts of this particular blossom were the sepals and which were the petals.

Orchids can do that to you, too.

* * *

“He told Wolfe he was extremely sorry, he apologized, but he would be able to include only twelve Phalaenopsis Aphrodite in the shipment instead of twenty, and no Oncidium flexuosum at all.” 

– Rex Stout, “The Doorbell Rang,” 1965.

Sallie is partial to the paphs, many of which are known as ladyslippers (although the wild orchid that is Minnesota’s state flower, the pink and white lady’s slipper, is a Cypripedium). She likes the characteristic feature of one large, downward-drooping, pouch-shaped petal, called a labellum or lip, which serves to attract pollinating insects (and to my eye resembles the death-trap apparatus on the pitcher plant).

Part of our reason for going to the orchid show this year was to replace a rare fatality in our little home collection, a ladyslipper that spent a healthy four years with us but abruptly sickened and died of causes unknown. Happily, she found an identical plant from the very same vendor, along with the advice to try a pot with ventilation openings in the walls – your ladyslippers hate wet feet.

I am more than happy with the ubiquitous phals – especially, this year, with a plant whose 4-foot-long raceme is still weighted with seven of the dozen big white blooms that started to appear last September.

But lately I’ve been rereading the Nero Wolfe detective novels, where I first encountered the mystery of orchids, and this put me in the mood for a little more variety; after talking orchid anatomy with the expert, I thought I might keep an eye out for Oncidiums as we browsed the vendors’ tables.

The one I settled on – an Oncidium Ron’s Rippling Delight, 15 inches tall, with blooms like deep-sea creatures – is a manmade hybrid, an example of the human inability to let well enough alone. Well enough in this case being upward  of the estimated 20,000 orchid varieties produced by normal evolution.

I’ve had a reflexive sort of a policy of sticking to “natural” varieties in the past, but when they give such an awesome orchid your name, I guess it does something to you.

* * *

In 1877 [Charles Darwin] published a book called “The Various Contrivances By Which Orchids Are Fertilized by Insects.”  In one chapter he described the strange orchid had found in Madagascar — an Angraecum sesquipedale with waxy, white star-shaped flowers and ‘a green whip-like nectary of astonishing length.’

 The nectary was almost twelve inches long and all of the nectar was in the bottom inch.  Darwin hypothesized that there had to be an insect could eat the unreachable nectar, and at the same time fertilize  the plant — otherwise the species couldn’t exist. Such an insect would have to have a complementarily strange shape.

  —  “The Orchid Thief.”

More than most years, I noticed at this year’s show the remarkable diversity in size, shape, coloration and what I suppose I’d call anatomical modification represented by the orchid-viewing humans.

Plenty of fanciers who crowd the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park for these shows are as ordinary-looking as could be … except for the camera gear. They train lenses you could use to shoot from the sidelines of the Super Bowl on blossoms that sit still,  inches away.

Plenty of others are as, well, unusual as you might encounter at closing time at the State Fair.

I’m thinking now of the bare-armed woman inked from shoulders to wrists with unbroken floral array featuring, oddly, not a single orchid I could spot from a respectful distance; the artist seemed to prefer roses, irises and lilies, which I suppose are pretty, too, in their own limited way.

There was a man with a close-cropped, jet-black beard outlining his jaw and a skinny, floppy, crimson mohawk marking the fore-and-after centerline of his bald skull. A woman with yards of fat red yarn woven into nearly knee-length dreds that might or might not have been her own raven hair.

Any number of girls and women, from grade school to Social Security age, abloom in bright tights, flowing silks and stiff, taffeta-like fabrics that gave an impression of flower petals, or maybe I mean sepals.

One could speculate endlessly on what such costuming is intended to attract, or repel.

I preferred instead to think about the lengths our species will go to in its quest for apparent individualism, for  superficial diversity – a sort of mimicry of the speciation that the world’s myriad, still uncounted orchids display by evolutionary accident.

Orchids can do that to you, too.

*Source: Ron Meador for MinnPost

BAY AREA LIFE: EXPLORE THE 64TH ANNUAL ORCHID EXPOSITION IN SF

Explore the Legacy of Orchids at the 64th Annual Orchid Exposition in San Francisco.

Orchids are one of the oldest plant species and date back thousands of years. Their legacy and importance in society throughout history have been noted in the Aras Pacis of Ancient Rome and in the Materia Medica, which is the oldest known Chinese pharmaceutical text.

The Pacific Orchid Exposition boasts over 150,000 beautiful orchids from around the world and features docent tours, orchid potting demonstrations, cultivation tips and a diverse array of orchids for sale.

The event showcases intricate exhibits from local, national and international orchid growers, as well as vibrant displays from Orchid Societies around California.

Plus, throughout the weekend there is a silent auction featuring fabulous items to bid on like wine, art, trips, and more.

The 64th Annual Pacific Orchid Exposition runs February 26 through February 28.

Orchids for Bay Area’s microclimates:

1) Phalaenopsis are low-light orchids and will thrive in a east window, or a shaded southerly or westerly exposure. They do not like direct sunlight and will scorch.
2) Cymbidiums have been known to briefly withstand freezing temperatures, although frost will kill them. They can also withstand considerably summer heat without wilting.
3) Milltonias survive best with indirect light and some shade in the middle of the day. Too much direct sunlight will damage these orchids’ leaves.
4) Masdevallias require very cool conditions and abundant moisture throughout the year. They cannot tolerate dryness, low humidity, or excessive temperatures and the plants are very easy to kill.
5) Lycastes perform best with temperatures between 60 and 80 F, though they will tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures for short periods.
6) Cattleya occineas grows best in areas that are on the warm and dry side and it’s best to grow in pots.
7) Laelia anceps are very durable plants. They easily take temperatures down to freezing or as warm as the 90’s.
8) Dendrochilums prefer very bright light just short of direct sunlight. The thinner the leaf, the more sun the plant will tolerate.

Dendrobium and Mokara Care and Handling Suggestions for Floral Wholesalers and Retailers

By Tom Vail

Manager, Amy’s Orchids – Thailand

People frequently ask about the best ways to care for cut flower tropical orchids.  Here are some suggestions.

First, the water tubes we use on the flowers are meant for limited time use.  While the flowers usually last more than one week with the water tubes, it is best to remove the water tubes as soon as possible, re-cut the stems, and place in fresh floral nutrient solution.  (Actually, the nutrient is of limited value.  CLEAN water is the most important factor).  Professional floral nutrient solutions contain sugar (the nutrient), but also antibacterial agents (usually a weak organic acid, like vinegar).  Bacterial growth in the vase solution is the biggest danger for Thai orchids, and it causes stem blockage and reduces water uptake.  This is why we recommend removing the water tubes and placing the flowers in fresh solution.  Also, re-cutting the stems helps to remove any blockage (usually from bacterial growth) which may be present.  Cool temperature storage also retards bacterial growth.

For wholesalers, it is usually not practical to remove the water tubes.  In this case, 1) make sure the stems are IN the water, and 2) storage is cool.  Ends of the stems must be in water (obviously) for the flowers to “drink.”  Sometimes, the flowers drink fast, and use all of the water in the water tubes.  If this happens, it is CRITICAL to re-cut the stem and replace the water.  Also, stems might not be inserted fully into the water tube.  Another case we have seen is orchid bunches displayed for sale with the water tubes elevated, leaving the end of the stem dry.  Whenever the stem ends have become “dry,” they should be re-cut before placing them in water.

Storage temperature for both Wholesalers and Retailers should be around 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius).  This is not a critical factor, but storage at both warmer and colder storage temperatures can shorten vase life.  A closely related factor is humidity.  The smallest amounts of condensation on the petals can cause botrytis to develop.  This usually starts as pinpoint sized black spots, and can spread rapidly and ruin the flower’s appearance, and dramatically reduce vase life.  Allowing moisture (humidity) from outside to flow into cold storage, or moving the flowers from cold to warm and back, can cause condensation on the blooms – even if it is too small to see.  Any noticeable condensation, either on the blooms or inside the wrapper, should be dried out as quickly as possible.  Fans can help.

In opposition to high humidity and condensation on the blooms, is low humidity and desiccation.  In our 15 years of experience, I have only encountered noticeable desiccation in one instance.  This was at a small exhibition in Denver.  They told me that there was very low humidity, and our flowers wilted dramatically in less than 48 hours.  Floral sprays which “seal” the blooms, preventing transpiration, can prolong vaselife in circumstances like this.  As a grower, packer and shipper of orchids, we have little experience with this and cannot recommend from direct knowledge.  We pack our flowers, leis and garlands in plastic wrappers for shipping.  This produces a “micro” environment in which humidity is favorable for the flowers.  (But, beware of condensation inside the wrapper.  This can be VERY damaging to blooms, and can cause the damage very fast).  Wholesalers should keep orchids in the wrappers.  For Retailers, the plastic wrapper would probably impede sales or use.

When blooms are on the stems, it is easy for them to hydrate from vase solution.  Once placed into an arrangement without the stem and hydration, as in a corsage or a lei, it is more important to protect the bloom from desiccation.  Storage in a plastic wrapper or container will help.  Use of a floral spray will help.  To counter this problem, Amy’s Orchids puts maximum effort into fully hydrating ALL flowers and floral products before shipping.  Our loose blooms, leis, garlands, as well as our stems receive a treatment protocol that makes them long lasting in almost any situation.  We have had garlands on display for up to one week without significant wilting.

Look for my soon-to-be-published book, How to Make Your Dendrobiums Last Four Weeks!  It has more information about care and handling of tropical orchids.

Sign up for our newsletter for monthly suggestions on Card and Handling of Thai orchids.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Contact us by email at sales@amysorchids.flowers.

Orchids at the Botanical Gardens

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) – A couple events taking place at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

“Lumagination” is going on now and get ready for Orchids, a fantastic collection of cymbidiums. The display showcases beautiful and colorful orchids in bloom throughout the Gardens.

Informal Q&A’s with the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society and an additional Award Winning Orchid Show on the final weekend, February 27-28.

*Source: WKBW Buffalo

Agricultural Society solar project delayed by rare orchid

The plans of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society to break ground before spring on a 249-kilowatt ground-mounted solar array project, covering close to two acres of Ag Society land adjacent to the Polly Hill Arboretum off State Road in West Tisbury, have hit an environmental snag.

Tree clearing went beyond the boundaries approved by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) to protect the cranefly orchid, a protected species listed as endangered by the state. The cranefly is classified a member of Orchidaceae family. Lady’s slipper, another Island orchid, is classified as a member of the same family by some but not all botanists.

NHESP reviewed the project in May and conditioned its approval on a 150-foot setback from an area identified as a cranefly orchid habitat.

The West Tisbury zoning board of appeals approved the solar panel project in November.

Although the setback was a part of the plan, the clearing work went beyond the allowable distance.

The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program exists within the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. It is a small agency with a powerful regulatory reach. Natural Heritage is responsible for the regulatory protection of rare species and their habitats, and derives its authority from the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.

Natural Heritage has review authority for any work that would be done on the properties that fall within the category of state-designated “priority habitat.” It is a designation based on the known geographical extent of habitat for all state-listed rare species, both plants and animals.

On Martha’s Vineyard, the state has designated about two-thirds of the entire Island as priority habitat for protected animal or plant species.

Survey required

An email dated Jan. 14, 2016, from Brent Powers, NHESP biologist, sent to project surveyor Chris Alley of Schofield, Barbini and Hoehn of Vineyard Haven, with copies to West Tisbury building inspector Joe Tierney said, “Through the course of the past project review the Division asked to have a botanical survey completed. At the completion of two rounds of botanical survey the selected botanist observed several small patches of Cranefly Orchid on the property and within the original limit of work. It is important to note that at the time the botanical survey only occurred within the proposed limit of work and did not cover the entire property.

“Based on the past survey work and information in the file it appears areas of the property were not surveyed for Cranefly Orchid survey. Therefore, should the applicant desire to expand the limit of work (i.e. clearing for shade mitigation) the Division will likely require a botanical survey for Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) be conducted and the results of the botanical survey be sent to the Division for review.”

Green money

Ag Society president Dale McClure said the solar project is a joint effort with Bennett Electric, an Island-based solar power developer owned by Bill Bennett of Chilmark, to generate income to help pay for the debt load created when the Ag Society borrowed $800,000 to add eight acres of land to its holdings.

Mr. McClure said the project will cost the society between $500,000 and $600,000, and will be financed jointly by Bennett Electric and the Ag Society. Mr. Bennett will benefit from federal and state tax-credit incentives, but the Ag Society will not because it is a nonprofit. But both entities will benefit from the sale of Massachusetts Solar Renewable Energy Certifications (SRECs), a state program that issues one negotiable SREC for each thousand kilowatt-hours produced, and from the sale of electricity credits from the production of energy beyond what is used by the Ag Society.

Mr. McClure said that in keeping with the Ag Society’s mission to support local agriculture, they will offer discounted energy credits first to local farmers to help lower their electrical bills. Mr. McClure deferred to Mr. Bennett on the specifics of the joint venture.

Mr. Bennett said that he is really happy to be helping the Ag Society get out of debt and to be building another solar project to help reduce the Island’s dependence on fossil fuels, but he declined to describe the specifics of the financial arrangement. “I am in business,” he said.

Mr. Bennett said the project will utilize steel posts driven into the ground, with no concrete to disturb the land. “The entire array could be removed in a day if need be,” he said.

Mr. Bennett pointed to his experience building similar-size arrays. He said he is also working on an off-Island solar array project.

In 2012, Mr. Bennett erected a solar array in fields off Watcha Road in Edgartown, a site he once envisioned as a neighborhood of 11 affordable homes called Cozy Hearth.

 

Clearing concerns

The Ag Society bought the land, in a three-way deal in 2012, from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, which once envisioned a new museum on the 10-acre site and later decided to buy and develop the old Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven. The Ag Society purchased eight acres, and Polly Hill purchased two acres. The land is sandwiched between the two nonprofits.

Tim Boland, director of the Polly Hill Arboretum, expressed some concern over the number of trees cut down for the project and the proximity of the solar array to the arboretum.

“We certainly support efforts to produce renewable power, but we are also tree people,” he said in a phone call. In a follow-up by email, he said, “As far as the placement of the solar array on the Ag Society property, we would have liked to have been part of the preplanning dialogue, as its placement directly on our border impacts our visitors who go to our most popular site, Polly’s Playpen, and it also is visible from our future one-acre woodland garden. Looking at their remaining six acres, it could have been more thoughtfully placed closer to their current developed area. “Development should be clustered with past development. We now have to develop extension screening, which could have been avoided if a larger (native woodland) buffer had been left in place. A 80-year-old natural woodland is hard to replicate.”

Mr. Boland said that he will be working with the Ag Society on plantings for a buffer zone.

Mr. McClure said that many of the trees that were taken down were either diseased, or dead from caterpillar and wasp infestations.

The Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society was founded in 1859 with a mission to promote the pursuit of agriculture and improve the quality and quantity of livestock and produce on the Vineyard. The annual fair is their largest and best-known event, but the society promotes agriculture through their own activities, scholarships, grants, cooperation with other Island groups, and by providing a space for a variety of community and agriculture-related events.

*Source: MV Times

5 things to know about 2016 Orchid Mania at Cleveland Botanical Garden

EVELAND, Ohio — Orchid Mania, the annual blast of color and aromas celebrating the elegant orchid, is headed to the tropics.

This year’s theme at Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, from Saturday, Jan. 30 to Sunday, March 6, is Cuba, “because it’s suddenly open to the U.S.,” said Cynthia Druckenbrod, vice president of horticulture.

The botanical garden’s Eppig Gallery wall will be transformed into colorful Cuban apartments with orchids spilling out of window boxes, and Clark Hall will feature a tropical beach scene. Cultural elements that make Cuba iconic, such as dominoes and salsa music, will be a part of Orchid Mania.

“Come down and warm up in the glasshouse and be surrounded by color and Cuba,” Druckenbrod said.

The photo gallery with this story shows images from the 2015 show.

Here are five things you need to know about Orchid Mania:

1. More than 1,000 orchid plants in 200 varieties will be on display. “It’s different every year because we never know what’s in bloom,” Druckenbrod said. Weather is a factor in places where orchids are grown outdoors, such as California and Hawaii.

2. Many orchids also come from local nurseries, such as Windswept in Time in Broadview Heights, and Green Circle Growers in Oberlin. Green Circle Growers is one of the largest orchid suppliers the United States, Druckenbrod said.

3. The Greater Cleveland Orchid Society Show and Vendor Sale, sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Orchid Society, is from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14. The show and sale includes a judged orchid show and vendors selling orchid plants. Free with botanical garden admission. On Saturday, orchid vendors will open for orchid sales beginning at 10 a.m., and the public can see the juried show starting at noon. Go to the botanical garden website for details.

4. Dresses inspired by orchids and created by students from the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University will be on display during Orchid Mania.

5. The Garden of Good and Evil: A Night in Havana, a fundraising benefit for the botanical garden, is from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, Feb. 19. Tickets are $100 for botanical garden or Holden Arboretum members, $125 for non-members.

If You Go

Orchid Mania

Saturday, Jan. 30-Sunday, March 6

Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday

Orchid Mania is free with botanical garden admission, which is no charge for botanical garden and Holden Arboretum members; non-member adults $11; non-member children 3-12 is $6; and children under 3 admitted free.

*Source: Cleveland.com

Thirteenth annual Tamiami International Orchid Festival to be held this weekend

In 2009, Karina Motes went to the Tamiami Orchid Festival with her mother, a longtime orchid hobbyist. Motes came across the Motes Orchid table and asked Bartholomew Motes about one of the orchids.

“There was this one really beautiful orchid, so I approached the Motes Orchid table and asked the gentleman behind the counter what the name of the orchid was. It turned out that the orchid was named Bartholomew Motes, and the person who I was asking was also Bartholomew Motes,” Karina Motes said.

Bartholomew and Karina Motes ended up exchanging vows — and orchids — at their wedding. Their story is similar to that of many “orchid couples” and “orchid friends” who bond over their dedication to the orchid world and their passion for the intricacies of the flowers and the care it takes to keep them alive.

The annual Tamiami Orchid Festival is a place for orchid lovers, like the Motes family, to unite to see displays, sit in on lectures and buy and trade orchids from around the world. About 6,000 guests are expected at this year’s event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 23 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds Expo Center, 10900 Coral Way.

Justin Lowe, who has attended multiple orchid events, said that he enjoys the Tamiami festival because it’s about more than just the flowers — it’s also a social event. Lowe and his partner, Jamie McCarter, spend time gardening together and look forward to the orchid festival every year.

“The first big thing we really went to was the Tamiami orchid show and we tailgated before the show,” Lowe said. “[Growing orchids] is something that’s best when you can get together with large groups of people.”

But guests don’t have to be orchid experts to enjoy the festival. During the event, there will be growing classes for both amateurs and advanced orchid owners presented in English and Spanish.

“It’s intended for the general public, and also intended for sophisticated orchid people. It really is wide-ranging. There will be something there for everyone,” said Martin Motes, president of Motes Orchids and member of the Miami-Dade County Agricultural Advisory Board.

Orchid growers are invited to bring their plants for exhibit and judging between noon and 5 p.m. Jan. 22. Multiple cash prizes for experienced and amateur growers will be available.

The 13th annual Tamiami International Orchid Festival will feature orchids from multiple countries, including China, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Venezuela and the Philippines.

Unique hybrids that have never been exhibited in South Florida will be available for purchase. Local orchid societies will be on hand to recruit members and answer questions, and will prepare orchid exhibits.

“This is such a great opportunity for someone in South Florida who likes orchids, but doesn’t have the means to travel, to find all these different types of orchids under one roof,” Karina Motes said.

IF YOU GO

What: 13th annual Tamiami International Orchid Festival.

Where: Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds Expo Center, 10900 Coral Way.

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 23 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 24.

Cost: $10; children 12 and under free.

Infoorchidfestival.com.

*Source: Miami Herald